In our early years of ministry when Ted was pastor, we had the opportunity to be foster parents to several deaf children. It was a joy and a challenge. We learned more about deaf culture from the experience, and we hope we were an encouragement and help to the foster children. One foster child was a beautiful, energetic and outgoing teenage girl. Her personality was the type that people of all ages liked. She knew how to win hearts.
We worked hard at treating the foster children the same as our own children. That included certain rules of the household and a certain lifestyle behavior. Each was expected to obey and do his part as a member of the family. Often this deaf young lady asked to go certain places or to be involved in activities that we felt were not in her best interest. When we told her “No,” she responded with, “Why? Why? Why?” As she signed this word, she also voiced it. After 50 years, Ted and I still mimic that cute personality quirk. Almost every child when told that he cannot do something or have something, will ask this famous question, “Why?”
Think about it. Has your child, after telling him “yes” or giving him what he wanted, asked “Why?” I don’t think so. It seems that the “Why?” of life is ongoing. But as we mature, our “Whys” are different from the time we were children and wanted our own way. Or, are they? Perhaps, the change is in the things we want. It is natural to want good health, a long life, obedient and happy children, and a successful marriage. Loyal friends, a comfortable home, successful jobs, close relationships, understanding, security, and to live happily ever after are also desired. But life is not like that. All of us have a measure of things that bring us joy and happiness. And everyone, even the best of Christians, the best of families, will have reasons to ask, “Why?” Life is filled with trials, hurt, neglect, difficulties, hard times, tragedies, horrific crimes, injustice, illness, death, and abuse. Daily we read about it in the newspaper, see it on social media, or see it on TV. Real life for everyone will have its tough times. “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
Why? Why? Why?
Early this year, dear friends laid to rest their 14 year old grandson who took his own life. Heartbroken they asked, “Why?” In Africa last year, a missionary was shot and killed. He had just arrived on the field with his family of eight. “Why?” was repeated by many. Children of faithful Christian parents are turning their backs on God and the church causing deep heartbreak and sorrow. In times like these, it is only natural for the “Whys?” to come.
Trust and Obey
I have learned that God allows us to ask why, as long as we trust and obey Him. Even Jesus, on the cross asked, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But while He was asking why, He was being obedient. Perhaps, the same as Job, we will never know the answers for why things happen. But may we say along with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him…” (Job 13:15). Maybe in Heaven we will learn the reasons why. Until then, we can be assured of God’s love (Romans 8:38,39), wisdom (James 3:17), and justice (Romans 12:19). We can learn to be content and leave the why unanswered. “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
When the whys come, here are some suggestions that may help:
1. Focus your mind on God. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). God knows everything. He knows how we feel, what makes us afraid, what we need, and how to help us. He knows the end from the beginning.
2. Talk to someone who cares. Remember that broken hearts are not healed by explanation or by understanding the why. Even if you knew why, you would still have the hurt. Broken hearts are healed by the love of God, family, and friends, and the hope we have in God. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24). (Sometimes professional help is needed to guide the process.)
3. Realize your helplessness, and depend on God who is all-powerful. Taking our hands off and surrendering to God can give peace that passes understanding. I remember a time in my life when I struggled for the answer to my “Why?” I was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. The moment I said, “Lord, I can’t do it anymore, I surrender, I give up,” His peace came over me like a warm blanket. I will never forget that experience. Now, when I am tempted to worry and to struggle for the answer, I remember His peace. I was helpless, but God gave me comfort and contentment. It was all in the surrender. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:7).
Why? Why? Why? We may never know, but God knows and He cares. We may not know why, but we can know WHO. He never makes a mistake. We can always trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).
This is written because I care… Carlene